Schmeichel kept on believing
Published 17/05/2015 | 13:21
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel insisted Leicester never lost belief in themselves as they fought for their Barclays Premier League lives.
The Foxes ensured their continued presence in English football's top flight with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Sunderland on Saturday which took their tally to a remarkable 19 points from the last 24 on offer and in the process, ensured that 18th-placed Hull cannot catch them.
For long periods during the campaign, last season's Sky Bet Championship winners looked destined to make an immediate return to the Football League, but Schmeichel revealed that there was always a confidence within the camp that they could avoid the drop.
The 28-year-old told Foxes Player: "It's come from belief, never losing focus, never losing the belief and the energy that we put into games, just keep going, keep working, keep believing in the way we want to play football.
"I liken this run-in to winning the title last season, it's sort of the same thing, You are going into every game needing points, you have to keep picking up points, and we have done that. It's been a great run."
Six wins out of seven had sent City to the Stadium of Light on the crest of a wave and with the Black Cats knowing victory would almost certainly end their own fears of being sucked into the mire, it proved a tense affair with little to recommend it to the purist.
In the event, the spoils were shared and as news of Hull's impending defeat at Tottenham filtered through to Wearside, the final whistle brought a joyous conclusion to Leicester's fight and left Sunderland tantalisingly close to redemption.
For Foxes boss Nigel Pearson, it was the culmination of a remarkable few weeks and he was quick to salute his players.
He said: "This run has been singular, really. I have not known a side in our sort of position which has been able to produce the types of performances and results that we have achieved.
"I am really pleased for the players because they have been a pleasure to work with. But it transpires that we needed this type of a run because so many other sides in the bottom third of the division have put together decent runs.
"It's been a difficult season to sum up in one sentence, so I'll take my time looking at the entirety of the season.
"We think we know where we need to strengthen, and that's not necessarily just positionally. We feel we have got a good squad of players who have got a year's Premier League experience under their belts, so to speak, and we are better for it.
"But it's very hard to plan for the future when you don't know where your future is."
For opposite number Dick Advocaat, who collected his 11th point from the seven games for which he has been in charge, the wait goes on and with tough away trips to Arsenal and Chelsea to come, he may yet have to rely on a final day defeat for Hull by Manchester United to get the job done.
However, he knows a maximum of one point from Wednesday's trip to the Emirates Stadium and Sunday's visit to the champions will see the club clinch its own safety, and he is confident they will stay up.
He said: "We will stay in, I have no doubt about that."
Striker Connor Wickham is determined not to prolong the agony until the weekend, and he is hoping the Black Cats can take a decisive step on Wednesday night.
He said: "They are two tough games away from homes, but they are opportunities for us. We need one point, we all know that.
"We know what we have got to do now and and it's something we are capable of. There are two opportunities to clinch it and hopefully we can do that on Wednesday night."